I wasn’t interested in the debuts of Ballers and The Brink tonight.
But I watched them.
That’s because HBO has built a brand strong enough to convince me to watch things I’m not interested in.
It turned out I didn’t love either show.
But I’ll watch them again.
HBO’s brand is so strong I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that these shows will grow on me.
That got me thinking…
Why don’t movie studios build their brands the way television networks do?
HBO is the shining example (it’s not TV, it’s HBO after all), but it’s not alone in its branding success on the small/portable/digital screen.
I know what to expect when Showtime puts out a new show.
I know what FX tends to deliver.
And I know the difference between a Comedy Central comedy and an IFC comedy.
I even know what kind of experience I’m going to get when Netflix drops a binge bomb on me.
For all the talk about how the quality of recent TV programming has fueled a golden age of television, there’s been little talk about another factor that contributes to that success – branding.
And for all talk about the struggles of the movie industry, there’s been equally little talk about the failure of the studios to brand themselves.
People check out a new HBO series just because it’s an HBO series.
But nobody goes to a new Warner Bros. movie just because it’s a Warner Bros. movie.
With the exception of Disney and Pixar (Marvel is a whole other story since it’s a brand built on specific pre-existing characters at this point), studio brands are non-entities.
Their brands are not promoted, there’s no consistency of brand reflected in the product, and therefore the brand means nothing to the audience.
This is a huge missed opportunity – especially in a landscape where it’s harder than ever to sell tickets to original films.
There’s no quick fix of course. It takes years to build a successful brand and it only works if you back it up with consistent content that delivers on your brand promise (see: HBO).
But it would be nice to see the studios give it a shot.